University of Wisconsin–Madison

Keeping Up With the Americans

I decided on this blog title after trying to explain who the Kardashians are to my coworkers last week. I do not watch “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” nor do I follow their lives on social media, but to live in America it is assumed you know about the Kardashians. The topic of the Kardashian family came about at work when I was asked the question “what is the ideal body type in the United States?” In Japan, the emphasis of beauty is on small, light skinned, slender women as my coworkers explained. Trying to explain American beauty is completely different from in Japan, and in trying to elaborate what the American media believes beauty is, I thought I would use the classic example of the Kardashian family who use many tools such as makeup and plastic surgery to obtain the “ideal American beauty” standards. However, when I mentioned the name Kardashian, I received blank stares, and it left me in shock that some of the biggest people in American media were as obscure as I am to Japan. When I showed my coworkers pictures of the Kardashians, they looked horrified like they were seeing plastic surgery fails, but I had to explain that many women in America aspire to look like that. It really struck me how, despite our globalized 21st century economy, our American media still is extremely divided from Japan.

From this tangent of how I thought of the blog title, comes the main topic I wanted to address: keeping in touch with loved ones back home. I’m not going to lie, it’s hard. It’s hard, but it is manageable. I didn’t buy a new cell phone or SIM card for while I am here, but instead I bought a portable wifi box providing my phone and laptop unlimited wifi. So anyone I wanted to contact I had to do either by iMessage, WhatsApp, Facebook messenger or email. The time difference is a huge factor to consider when communicating back home, but with a fifteen hour time difference I find it best to talk early morning my time (9AM) on the weekends or in the evening (7:30PM) on weeknights. It really isn’t as hard as you would think to find a way to communicate with back home.

Keeping up with social media, on the other hand, is far too easy to do and I continually find myself sucked into Facebook or Instagram. While, yes, it is good to see what friends are up to or the politics back home, I can easily find myself wasting time that I could be using to explore Japan! I try my best now to only use social media when I am on transportation or right before/after sleeping to keep me as focused on my new environment as possible. On days where I find myself more consumed with what is going on at home, the more homesick I feel. It’s natural to feel homesick when traveling abroad, but to minimize it I think it’s better to be in the moment.

My big takeaways from keeping up with people back home are that it’s easy and, if anything, you should be more worried about using social media or talking to friends and family too much.

 

Until next time!